Maeve traipses home, sweat pouring down her back. March wasn’t this warm when Mommy was a girl. No,— soft, cold flakes of snow blanketed the ground. At least, that’s what Mommy said.
Past the playground, children who don’t get a future. Past the two saplings. They never last; why does the city bother anymore? People drive under solar panels, coming home from jobs that are supposed to save the environment. But everybody will die within twenty years. Those jobs came too late. At least, that’s what the scientists said.
She doesn’t have any ambitions. Nothing matters if the water is going to swallow her whole. Or maybe she’ll shrivel up like a sun-dried tomato. At least she has twenty years to find her final words. There, that’s an ambition.
Her battered house leans on a useless little hill. She swings the swollen door open, watermarks higher each year. It’s a growth chart just like the one Mommy keeps for her. The water grows faster.
Mommy drags in the groceries, wearing her Yale shirt as if a fancy degree will protect her. She wants Maeve to attend Yale, but how can she if Connecticut drowned years ago?
“Maeve, a little help.”
Into the garage, heave bags to the kitchen. 75% recycled material, one bag brags. Oh, that’s the minimum, retorts another. 84%, how’s that! Food is stocked, one more week to live in Dumpster World. Maybe Maeve can find a clean planet all for herself. Ambition number two.
The sun disappears, a breeze kicks up. Mommy frowns.
“That’s weird. Storms weren’t predicted today.”
Maeve shivers. The storms are more often these days, Maeve overheard Daddy say one night. What will we do when the house floods? Where will we go?
Now the rain patters on the windows. It’s almost pleasant, except for Daddy’s words creeping up behind Maeve, ready to pounce if she gets too comfortable.
The rain turns into a tantrum. Dying trees lash the house, people duck through doors, and the wind howls. It’s never this bad. Mommy and Daddy hold Maeve close when she crawls into their bed that night.
In the morning, there is no sun, only wind and rain. The next day, too, and the next. Maeve stays upstairs because downstairs is a swimming pool.
On day six, no power.
Day ten, nothing to eat.
Day thirteen, no Mommy. No Daddy. It wasn’t twenty years, scientists. It wasn’t twenty years. She’s alone, words half-said, lost in water before she could finish.
Lydia Hessel-Robinson is a high school freshman in the Philadelphia area. Her work has previously been published in Philadelphia Stories, Jr., and Cricket magazine. She also loves to read and competes in horseback riding.